Feeling Swell with Murrieta’s Well

Not too long ago I was contacted by Snooth to participate in a virtual tasting. A week after that, five wines from Murrieta’s Well showed up on my doorstep to be tasted on July 10th. Now, I enjoy wine, but five bottles in one evening is pushing it a little bit as a solo drinker. In order to not be entirely sloshed by the time we opened the third bottle, I decided to throw a girls night. I put together one of the best cheese boards I’ve ever made and put out a ton of other small bites, including a little bruschetta with shrimp and other options that were light and easy for a summer night. So, we sat outside, tasted our wines, and I played the poor host who had her computer open the entire time to follow along with the tasting.


With a bunch of wine before us, as soon as my guests showed up I opened the 2017 Small Lot Sauvignon Blanc, which runs for $35. One of the first varietials picked on the estate every season and picked during the first non-drought year since 2011, these grapes produced a weighty wine that was unlike many Sauvignon Blanc I’ve previously tasted. On the nose, this was bursting with notes of tropical fruits with a small touch of white florals. On the palate, it followed through with fruits like pineapple, mango, grapefruit, and early season peaches. It was a very full wine that was light on the acidity. I will say this: it was my least favorite bottle of the evening. But that’s fine! I’ve said this a million times on this blog, but just because a wine might not be for me, it could still be for you. Do you love tropical fruits? French style Sauvignon Blanc? Aromatics for days? Then you may enjoy this one. It’s not a poorly made wine; it’s just not gonna end up back in my fridge any time soon.


Sticking with the whites, the second bottle we tried was the 2016 The Whip White Wine Blend, which consisted of 33% Sauvignon Blanc, 24% Semillon, 21% Chardonnay, 12% Orange Muscat, and 10% Viognier. This blend had a more mixed reaction than the first; only one of my girlfriends was not a fan while one said that she would definitely buy a bottle. On both the nose and palate, there were strong notes of stone fruits like apricot and white peaches, as well as a nice light acidity the provided a crisp yet not lingering finish. I could imagine this going well with grilled chicken, sushi, and other light meats. With an SRP of $24, I say buy at least two bottles and open them among friends. This one is a crowd-pleaser that I could imagine working well at both holiday parties and BYOBs. It’s a fun option that should be enjoyed now.


Moving on from the white wines, we opened the 2017 Dry Rosé. Boasting 42% Grenache, 39% Counoise, and 19% Mourvedre, this was in my top two of the five wines we tried. Even though rosé was a trend everyone thought might die, I believe that the rosé I’ve tasted over the past year have been significantly more exciting, flavorful, and engaging that the ones I opened when I was twenty-one. This bottle was outstanding with good balance, well integrated alcohol, a touch of strawberry on the palate, and a depth not often found in California rosé. One of my friends tasted it alongside a crostini topped with Gouda and strawberry jam and raved about the pairing. Food friendly and relatively affordable with an SRP of $30, this is the wine that I would say is for everyone. Buy as many bottles as you can and drink it all throughout the year.


Next up was the 2015 The Spur Red Wine Blend. Very fruit forward with a hint of vanilla, there was cherry on the nose and dark fruits, dried berries, and versatility on the palate that kept each sip interesting. Despite the complexity, I wouldn’t spend too much time searching for tasting notes. It would be perfect for an easy night in the winter when you’ve rushed home from work or a small gathering of friends where you crave good wine but want to focus on the conversation more than what’s in your glass. So what made up this blend? The varietal composition was 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petite Sirah, 18% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, and 6% Cabernet Franc. If that makes you perk your ears up, the SRP is $35 and it’s still available on their website, so don’t sleep on it.


Finally, we got to the 2015 Small Lot Cabernet Sauvignon, which poured a lovely ruby color into the glass and, as I joked with my friend The AZ Wine Monk on Instagram, it seemed like the kind of wine that Sherlock Holmes would open. Comprised of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petit Verdot, and 2% Malbec, I loved it. I thought it had layers and it was the standout of the evening. The wine was incredibly expressive in a way that made me want to leave my nose in the glass for the rest of the night. There were peppery notes, black fruit, cocoa, tobacco, and a velvety mouthfeel that kept everything interesting. Although the wine was certainly powerful, it wasn’t too aggressive, making it strong yet approachable. Two of us were all about this bottle. I wished I had a coffee encrusted steak in front of me to dig into alongside the wine. If you can’t tell, I don’t want to stop talking about it. With the highest SRP of $58, I think the best thing to do with this wine is to either open it for yourself first and see if you love it as much as I did, or to save it for a day among friends who really go ga-ga for broody Cabernets. We tasted this one as an early release, yet the 2014 is sold out on their website, so keep an eye out and grab as many as you can once it is available.


One takeaway from this tasting with Snooth and Murrieta’s Well is that this winery has a variety of options for every wine lover. If you don’t believe me, just remember that many loved the Cabernet, while it was too much for some of my friends, and that none of us were fans of the Sauvignon Blanc, though many of the other wine bloggers that were participating in the virtual tasting adored it. What else make Murrieta’s Well unique? Located in the Livermore Valley and founded in the late 1800s, this winery is one of California’s original wine estates. All of the wine is sourced exclusively from said estate. For the French wine fans, the vineyard was started with cuttings from the Chateau d’Yquem and Chateau Margaux vineyards. There are plenty of cool things to discover about this estate and every new fact makes the passion behind the wine clear. If you’ve tried any of their other wines (particularly their Petit Verdot which I now have my eye on), let me know your favorites. If you participated in the tasting, did your thoughts line up with mine? Let’s start a discussion!


These wines were kindly provided to me by the wineries/importers listed above, but all opinions are my own.

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Drink Away on Bastille Day

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know I am a Francophile. Paris was the best city I visited while studying abroad, I’m practicing my (very horrendous) French on Duolingo every morning, and I think I’ve watched most of the French language options on Netflix. One French thing I haven’t experienced is Bastille Day. For those of you not in the know, Bastille Day which is also called la Fête nationale is the national holiday that celebrates both the turning point of the French revolution on July 14th, 1789 and the unity of the French people exactly a year later. It’s like our 4th of July except from what I’ve heard, the French party a little harder than we do. My cousin went several years ago and said people stayed up late into the night, the subways were overflowing, and everyone was in a great yet kind mood. It’s something I’d like to see one day, but until then, I’ll just open a bottle of French wine on July 14th every year. 


Although now seems to be the season where more white and rosé wine end up on the dinner table, I am always happy to open a Pinot Noir. All the way back in December, I received a bottle of the 2016 Arrogant Frog Pinot Noir as well as a cute little frog statue to sit on my desk while I type away. Comprised of 100% Pinot Noir, this inky wine was full of dark red berries like black cherries and raspberries. In addition to the fruity nose, on the palate it had some hint of spice to it and a firm backbone of acidity. While I wouldn’t necessarily liken this wine to an arrogant frog, I could totally imagine sitting outside around noon by a creek in the late autumn as frogs croak in the background. If that doesn’t sound appealing, just think of your ideal scenario to open a bottle with wine friends and regular friends alike. That’s where you should open this bottle. From my experience with Arrogant Frog, these are meant to be fun, and at $9.99, the price point makes these wines easily accessible to anyone of legal drinking age. Go out and buy a bottle already.


The other bottle I opened more recently was the 2017 Côté Mas Rosé Aurore. This wine was part of a #WineStudio session, and as we discussed the wine, we also spoke about the concept of luxe rural. The idea behind it is to find the simple pleasures in life. For the winemaker Jean-Claude, that means wine, cuisine, art, and nature. For me, it’s probably food, wine, a good book, and maybe some ice cream. That’s what this wine embodies; it’s like a friend who may not be the prettiest, smartest, or quickest person in the room, yet has an easy and confident demeanor that trumps everything else. Made up of 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, and 20% Syrah, on the palate this had very forward flavors of berries, particularly strawberry, hints of white aromatic flowers, and a touch of minerality that gave it some personality and jump. Undeniably a house wine, it is still a simple yet wholly satisfying rosé from Languedoc that is meant for pouring out a glass for friends. That’s the whole reason it boasts an affordable SRP of $12.99 for a 1-liter bottle. If you’re not sharing, the bottle holds up well if placed in the fridge for around a week after opening it.


So, if you’re not in France today (or if you are!), open up a bottle of wine to share with friends and enjoy the rest of your evening. Assuming either of these two bottles caught your eye, check out Les Domains Paul Mas website, which makes both of the ones I mentioned above or check out some of my older posts about these brands here and here. Cheers!

These wines were kindly provided to me by the wineries/importers listed above, but all opinions are my own.

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#WineStudio: Walking the Line with Orange Wine

I consider myself someone open to trying new things, whether that be food, wine, travel, or just a new theme park ride where I don’t know what to expect. Recently, I feel like I’ve been in a rut when it comes to wine. I’ve been sticking to the things I know I like, and I haven’t really explored anything very different this year. That changed with a recent #WineStudio. This particular session highlighted two parts of the wine world with which I have very little experience: Vermont wines and orange wines. I was able to familiarize myself with both through Iapetus Wine and its winemaker Ethan Joseph.


With vineyards located in the Champlain Valley, the land that Iapetus utilizes is characterized by mixed precipitation, cold winters, and warm summers. In addition to the land, the wine itself was fermented in stainless steel tanks, went through pressing after a 50-day maceration on skins, and was unfiltered before bottling. Ethan is all about the land, crafting a good wine, and being creative to boot. My favorite take away from this session was when Ethan said he doesn’t need everyone to love orange wine. Oftentimes, I feel like wine is pitched as a one size fits all bottle, but this winery understands that while not every style will appeal to every person, at the end of the day the most important question is: Is this a well-made wine?


Color is the first thing that will catch the eye of any shopper that comes across the 2016 Tectonic. It poured a cloudy sunset color that was unlike any wine I’ve come across before. Although the shade was eye catching, it took me some time to figure out what I actually thought of the flavor. There was a lot of citrus zest, orange blossom, and musk that came through with just the mildest touch of acidity. As it warmed, the flavors seemed to become rounder, so I suggest trying it at a variety of temperatures. While those notes don’t necessarily scream alternative, this was a funky wine that made me feel like I should be opening it among a Claude Lorrain pastoral landscape. It reminded me a lot of a wheat beer. I have never experienced anything like this before and am still not entirely sure if I’m ready for a second bottle, but I do think anyone who considers wine an interesting subject should buy one to try, especially with the price clocking in around $24. Go check out the website I linked above, and if the orange wine still scares you a bit, feel free to try their other bottles before you take the plunge on this one.


This entire session reminded me of a story that Virginia Made once shared. While at her local Total Wine, a hipster millennial went up to an associate and asked for that cool orange wine everyone was now drinking. The employee responded by saying that they did not carry wine made from oranges, but they did have wine made from blueberries. That little experience highlights just how misunderstood orange wine is. I don’t think this is a wine for everyone, but I do think it’s the kind of wine you have to experience at least once to truly call yourself an oenophile. Have you tried orange wine before? What were your thoughts?

These wines were kindly provided to me by the wineries/importers listed above, but all opinions are my own.

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#WineStudio: I Can Tell That We Are Gonna Be Friends

If you’ve followed my blog for any time at all, I’m sure you’ve heard me mention Pedroncelli, a winery that has had a great relationship with #WineStudio and all of its participants. However, this time around we viewed this winery through the lens of the women owned wineries of Sonoma County. As a twentysomething woman, it’s encouraging to see wineries owned by other women that both produce good juice and are supported by the community. It’s even better to realize that as a woman who is not only someone passionate about wine, but also as someone who believes that women should have a strong voice in all industries.


Julie Pedroncelli St. John is the 3rd generation owner of Pedroncelli, a winery which originally was started by her grandparents in 1927, and we learned that she has opinions about the wine, growing it, and how she wants to continue to promote the winery. She isn’t just standing on the sidelines and letting her husband make all the decisions (although her husband seems great!). As far as the actual wine goes, about half of the grapes used are farmed by the family and its employees, while the other half are sourced from within 12 miles of where they make their wine. Not only is this winery run by a woman, it is also focused on locally sourced grapes. It’s a hipster millennials dream.


The 2015 Mother Clone Zinfandel, which clocks in at a reasonable $19, was the perfect wine to open all the way back in February. The dark cherry colored wine was full of those dark fruit flavors. I picked up on blackberries and cherries as well as some smoky, peppery notes. Another blogger, Dezel who tweets from @myvinespot, also mentioned black tea, which I totally understood. Each sip had that slightly bitter, intense, and drying taste that I associate with my morning cup of tea. Despite all these aphotic words I’ve thrown out, this wine still had a fun brightness of acidity to it that balanced out all of the depth. Buy a few bottles now and open them all at different points over the next 5 years to enjoy everything it has to offer.


When I first opened the box housing these wines and saw the Friends. White, the White Stripes song “We’re Going to Be Friends” popped right into my head. I’m not one who often associates wine with music, but every time I think of this wine now, it’s immediately what I think of. It’s my inspiration for the title of this post, and I suggest you click the link above to listen to it after reading. The wine itself is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurtztraminer. It was incredibly aromatic on the nose and very heavy on the tropical notes. Pineapple, mango, white peach, and some white flowers were the flavors that immediately came to mind.


Considering I was sipping this during a long, oddly warm weekend at our beach place, I could have just been imaging those notes, but wine is almost always influenced by the way in which you experience it. I’m sure this was no exception as my sister and a few of us duked it out over a monopoly board with the waves crashing in the background. The SRP of $13 makes it one of the most approachable and affordable wines that I’ve opened this year. It’s the kind of wine to share with friends, pour into whatever glass you have on hand (as you can see I did above), and just enjoy without thinking too much. It’s aptly named and if you doubt that, all you need to notice is the cheeky winky face on the screw cap to change your mind.


I have had a lot of encounters with Pedroncelli wines through #WineStudio and it is consistently one of the best affordable wines that I buy. It’s also the first one I recommend to my work friends, most of whom are looking to spend $10 to $20 on a bottle. Their inventory is diverse enough to appeal to many drinkers, so the price is certainly not the only selling point. On my list to try are their vintage port and their petit sirah. What’s on yours?

These wines were kindly provided to me by the wineries/importers listed above, but all opinions are my own.

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#WineStudio: The Italian Stallions

I cannot believe this, but I am just about caught up with all of my #WineStudio posts. During the holidays, I was opening up bottles left and right, but it was hard to find the time to write about them. After bubbles upon bubbles, we shifted into a #WineStudio that was all about Italian reds with Terlato Wines and Ca’Marcanda. This was a session that highlighted wine at every price point and wine for every type of drinker. That element is one of my favorite parts of #WineStudio because it means that everyone from my friends about to start up graduate school like me to some of my more established coworkers are able to find something in their budget. Another element of these wines and this winery we learned about was how Angelo Gaja spent a lot of time negotiating for the land that now produces the Ca’Marcanda wines, and that dedication finds its way into every glass now, another selling point for these impressive options.


The 2015 Promis by Ca’Marcanda was the first bottle we opened, and it was certainly the most approachable. Made up of 55% Merlot, 35% Syrah, and 10% Sangiovese, the intense wine was full of dark berries, herbs, smoke, and some mocha on the nose. Despite these dark notes, it was smooth and juicy on the palate with plum and blackberry coming through on each sip. It was the easiest wine to appreciate with a deep energy that was enticing. With the $48 price point, that makes it the best option for someone who is new to Tuscan wines and wants to experience quality without dropping part of a paycheck on a bottle. If you are like me, recently out of college, working a job that may not pay the big bucks, but interested in the world of wine, I recommend this bottle as a small splurge for a day off. Spend some time thinking about the bottle, the wine, and the area it came from. Grab a friend or two to join in. Give it an hour or so to really open up. It’s the best way to engage with this one. You could age it for another 5 to 10 years maybe, but it’s good enough now where you certainly don’t have to.


After the approachable Promis, we stepped it up with the second bottle, the 2015 Magari. Apparently Magari means ‘if only it were true,’ which was the perfect name for this deeper, darker, slightly more broody wine. Made up of totally different grapes than the first bottle, this one contained 60% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Petit Verdot. All of these grapes can be beasts, which means that the bottle I received was a strong, confident wine that poured a deep royal purple in the glass. Unlike the earthy and fruity qualities of the Promis, this one was more spicy and floral on the nose. There was even a touch of lavender, which I often find with any bottle containing Petit Verdot. On the palate, this wine was full of dark cherry, a little cinnamon, and even a bite of ginger. With an SRP of $65, this bottle is an elegant yet feisty wine to add to your collection. If you’re feeling really adventurous and Italian, pair it with a pigeon risotto, which we learned is a Bolgheri speciality. If you do that, please let me know how that tastes, it’s on my to-try list!


Even though we started with some solid options, each week of #WineStudio built up to the flagship wine, the 2013 Camarcanda. This was a wine with definite aging potential that Tina from #WineStudio even said held up for two weeks after opening. Containing 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc, this had many layers and a complexity that I do not think everyone would appreciate. When I handed a glass to my sister’s boyfriend and explained the wine to him, his response was: “So I should chug this?” He didn’t mean it, but it does highlight the way in which most of my twentysomething friends would approach this bottle. They might be surprised by the price point and think the wine tastes fine, but they wouldn’t get it. It’s not a bottle for most of my friends, and that is fine. The SRP is $145 and it is only produced in the best growing years, highlighting how this bottle is meant for real enthusiasts who are hunting down the best quality wines in Tuscany. If that sounds like you, buy as many bottles as you can and taste it over the next 15 to 20 years, I think it will be worth it.


If you want an entry level wine that prompts you to explore what the Tuscan region has to offer, the Promis may be for you. If you’ve been discovering everything you could about Italian wine since the word Super Tuscan took the word by storm, you may be ready for the signature Camarcanda. The point of this #WineStudio wasn’t just to teach us about Italian wines and the passion behind what Ca’Marcanda is doing, but also to show us how this winery has a bottle for any red wine lover. I think that’s the real value of Ca’Marcanda. They’re not trying to appeal to one specific drinker, but to reach out beyond the borders of Italy and entice wine drinkers from the ages of 21 (or younger in Europe) to 91. I respect that and can’t wait to try another bottle soon! Have you had anything from this winery? What was your experience?

These wines were kindly provided to me by the wineries/importers listed above, but all opinions are my own.

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